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Google invades Siri's turf with new app

Google has launched Google Now, a free smartphone

Google has launched Google Now, a free smartphone and tablet computer application to rival Apple’s Siri question and task manager. The Now upgrade is activated through the Google Search app. (June 28, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

The sometimes droll assistant that answers questions and helps people manage their lives on Apple's iPhone and iPad is facing competition from an up-and-coming rival made by Google.

The duel began Monday with the release of a free iPhone and iPad app that features Google Now, a technology that performs many of the same functions as Siri.

It's the first time that Google Now has been available on smartphones and tablet computers that aren't running on the latest version of Google's Android software. The technology, which debuted nine months ago, is being included in an upgrade to Google's search application for iOS, the Apple Inc. software that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It's up to each user to decide whether to activate Google Now within the redesigned Google Search app, which is available through Apple's app store.

Siri tried to dismiss the competitive threat. When asked for an opinion about Google Now, Siri responded: "If it's all the same to you, I'd rather Google later."

Some iPhone users -- even those who have grown fond of Siri -- welcomed Google Now's arrival to iOS in mostly enthusiastic and sometimes amusing remarks posted on Twitter and Google Plus. The biggest gripe was about the possibility of Google Now's location-tracking features draining a device's battery more quickly.

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